Military science fiction has been a passion for more then a couple of player groups that have been a part of this table top life of mine. There hasn't been a time in my life when Hammer's Slammers hasn't been a part of my life. The book was on my dad's or my uncle's ash tray strune bed side table. If you don't know what Hammer's Slammers are let me give you the wiki entry short version; "Hammer's Slammers is a 1979 collection of military science fiction short stories by author David Drake. It follows the career of a future mercenary tank regiment called Hammer's Slammers after their leader, Colonel Alois Hammer. This collection, and other novels and stories in the same setting, are collectively called the Hammer stories, and the setting is called the Slammers universe or the Hammerverse." The paperback that came into this worn hands of mine is this one here.
The Slammers remind me of the 'Black Company' in a way by which not everything fits the critera of 'good' & within the stories of the Slammers there are numerous shades or shadows of grey lurking in the background. The last time that I saw the wife a year & half ago, she had gifted me 'The Complete Hammer's Slammers' from 2006. This is a book that's treasured as it should be.
The reason for the read through of Hammer's Slammers is for some inspiration for military mercenary ventures as numerous other original Traveller rpg dungeon masters have done. Its been a long, long, time & yes I know all about Mongoose Games Hammer Slammer Traveller rpg supplement. In point of fact the printer as we speak is printing out all two hundred & eight of 'em. But let's turn this on its ear & talk about why. Cepheus Engine rpg has been my original Traveller rpg oasis in a desert of Covid pandemic Hell. Wayback in '97 Larry Elmore signed my paperback copy of Tank Lords. He told me the story of his son being the model for the central figure on the cover of Tank Lords.
So do the David Drake stories hold up after all this time?! Yes they do but reading through the reviews of Dave Langford reviewed Hammer's Slammers for White Dwarf #67 & it still raises my hackles in a way; He stated that "Such are the lauded military virtues of the Slammers that (fearful that chicken-heartedness will prejudice their future contracts) they nobly disobey their own horrified employers' orders to stop slaughtering people and detonating irreplaceable shrines. If you like chainsaw massacres you'll love this." Well since my platyers are Texas Chain Saw fans the original film only naturally then you can see why being a Slammer's fan comes naturally to the table top. Speaking with the other DM's we're more inclined to agree with Lynn Bryant who reviewed Hammer's Slammers in Space Gamer/Fantasy Gamer No. 83; ""All in all there is a gritty feel to these novels that make you feel they show how life really would be if there ever are interstellar mercenaries." And its this one thought that crystalizes Original Traveller's military weaponry & ethos.
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